In Silas's very early days, I learned how essential baby-sleep is for all involved. So I began putting a fan in his room to insure napping and to soften the sounds of life -- doorbell, phone, car alarms, sirens, neighbors, footsteps.
Several times it crossed my mind to turn the fan off, to let the child sleep in the midst of noises. But each time it came down to his little tired eyes looking up at me from the crib, I'd switch the fan on, unwilling to chance interrupted sleep. I'd discovered a magic trick -- why not use it? And in no time the fan became an addiction, a glorious, sleep-inducing addiction.
Two years later, Eden arrived, and thank the lordy for the fan! It drowned the screaming, the night waking, the out of sync living of the two. In a matter of months, I knew the kids would share a room, but for now, the fan could rage and keep us sane with sleep.
I heard the nagging voice say I was conditioning them to sleep only with a whirring cushion of sound and many times resolved that THIS nap was the last fan nap. But then the next nap would come along, or bedtime, and I wouldn't be able to resist switching on that little Hawaiian Breeze to lull my babes to la la land. And as I did, I would weakly promise myself that after THIS sweet nap, we'd stop with the fan all together.
Then, we moved the kids in to Silas's room and the fan was just enough to take the edge off night screaming. So once again, I switched it on resolving that in a month or two, once they were accustomed to this shared space, I'd be done with it.
I think it was daylight savings this Spring that threw me into memories of bedtimes. I remember lying in bed with my head near the window, the evening bright golden, sleeping with just a sheet, listening to the older kids playing in the street, listening. I remember dishes clattering in the kitchen, silverware dropped, muted voices -- my parents' voices, their dinner parties and friends downstairs, the sounds of the cars passing by who threw their headlights in window panes across my ceiling. Those sounds were comfort, company.
But here I was, wrapping my children in sound-dulled, insulated slumber.
I haven't taken the fan out of the room yet, but I've left it off the last few days -- baby steps, you know -- and in a few more days, I may be ready to take it out all together. Slowly, slowly, Eden and Silas will learn the sounds of house, the assurance of voices around them.